Finished

“Where in your life do you need to know that “it is finished”? Where in your life are you still trying to earn your way, prove your worth, control your future, or get what’s already yours in Christ? What responsibility do you take as your own that was never yours to begin with?

“It is finished” invites you to end all the striving. Today, hear your victor speak those three words over you.

It is finished. That’s the startling truth of the marvelous cross. When we try to add to it, we are saying to Jesus, “Thanks, but I can do this on my own. I appreciate the agony you endured, but it wasn’t quite enough.”

We bring nothing to the cross – but our sin. We owe nothing to Jesus – but our complete adoration.”

Jennifer Dukes Lee

Jesus sat at the last supper with the twelve, knowing full-well what was coming. He knew there was both a traitor and a denier in their midst. I often marvel at the subtle differences between Judas and Peter and their subsequent outcomes.

We look down on Judas and shake our head disapprovingly. Poor fellow, he was just bad to the core. We see his betrayal of Jesus and his selling-out for some silver coins and we are simply appalled – we know how his story ends.

Do we read the story of Peter with any less judgment? He didn’t just shy away from Jesus when the heat was on, he outright denied knowing him three times.

Betrayal and denial. Are they really that different? Does it matter?

I remember being in a Passion Play at Easter when I was younger, and the scenes with Peter and Judas just took the cake for me. The pain and weight of sin was too much to watch.

We must remember and put into practice the finished work of the cross. It’s not a suggestion or a holiday story we talk about once a year… it’s our lifeline. Judas despaired. Peter sorrowed.

Betraying Jesus wasn’t the worst thing Judas did. He utterly rejected grace and forgiveness. Peter’s denial of Christ was indeed devastating, but he allowed Jesus to be what Jesus said He would be: Savior.

Peter didn’t stop in his distress, he allowed Christ to heal it. When Jesus said “it is finished”, Peter accepted that it was indeed finished. Judas saw himself as somehow outside the realm of forgiveness and mercy and wouldn’t allow it.

It was never about the heavy sins… it was about the sinners acceptance (or refusal) of what Jesus did.

Good Friday tells us that “it is finished”. Sin has been dealt with. We’ve all betrayed and we’ve all denied. And so much more. Followers are not free from sinning, we have been set free from it’s power over us.

Do you feel like there are areas in your life where it isn’t quite finished? I think we all have things we hold on to and won’t leave at the cross. Sin is done for. It’s been paid and dealt with. Peter is just one of my favorite people ever. His story didn’t end with his sin, it began once he accepted Christ’s total work on the cross.

Both men felt shame and sorrow over their sin. Judas went to the Pharisees who told him he’d better go deal with it himself. What futility. There is no bigger dead-end than trying to save ourselves. Condemnation kills.

Peter took another way. He felt the pain and sting of his sin, and was convicted by it, but not condemned. Conviction turns a heart around.

This is a day to reflect on the fact that it really is finished once and for all. Sin is done for. Peter responded to grace. He responded to Jesus. He went on to live a big life for Jesus, to the point of martyrdom. He most assuredly sinned again… like we all will. But he was no longer defined by those sins, he lived in the reality that it is indeed finished.

Cathedrals and Kingdoms

Our pastor at church this past weekend preached a sermon called “Don’t Go To Church… BE the Church.” I reflected a lot on that yesterday as I watched the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral go up in flames. American Christians are pretty comfortable with the idea that ‘church’ isn’t just a brick building you go to on Sunday’s. We Protestants are especially quick to point out that Jesus called us to focus on making disciples, not building campaigns. We believe in Emmanuel, “God with us”… wherever we may go. Paul tells us that we are all “God’s temple” and that His Spirit dwells always with us (1 Corinthians 3:16). So thanks be to God that His presence doesn’t reside solely in a building, but within us wherever we may be.

So, because we have this glorious truth, and perhaps because we are Americans whose history (or lack of it) leads us to jump right in and fix things, we make statements like this:

“Its too bad the relics didn’t burn.. The RCC uses thes fake relics to exploit people financially and keep them in spiritual bondage. The RCC gives a false gospel which has no hope.”

Justin Peters, Evangelist

I completely agree with his statement, by the way. But I take pause.

I take pause because if watching an 800 year old cathedral go up in flames doesn’t grieve your heart, well, I just don’t know. Something has been lost, and it’s more than just wood and stone.

I spent a good part of my younger years writing about and studying the Great Lady of Paris. Notre Dame was and is an overwhelming experience no matter who you are or what your faith may be. Your ego gets checked at the door as you enter and try and wrap your mind around the grandeur of it all. You feel small, and rightly so. To walk up tiny steps worn down by centuries of worshippers, to touch a cold stone pillar that has survived revolutions, wars, and who knows what… it humbles you.

Last night, when the first photos began to come out, this was what many people saw:

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There it stands. Yes, it’s symbolic. No, it doesn’t solve the enormous problems the Church in France or Europe is facing. As far as true Christianity goes, Notre Dame has been a bit of an empty vessel for many years. But there it stands, amongst actual flames and debris, the cross remains.

Friends, we are created for worship. We don’t worship the earthly material, we worship the One who created it. The fact that men centuries ago could use their God-given minds and talents to build something that would long outlast themselves, is something to be acknowledged. You can argue the point that places like this are prideful and opulent, and we Christians aren’t called to be either. Imagine worshipping in spirit and in truth in such a place. These places are symbolic of the physical presence of Jesus-followers here on earth. Granted, we haven’t always done a bang-up job at ‘being the church’ the way He taught us to, but I don’t fault the architects of beauty for that. I thank them for having the guts and dedication to build something on this earth that gets people to look up and ponder the greatness of their Creator.

So before we start lamenting the sad state of Christianity “over there”… let’s remember that we are not immune to our own cultural traps as well. Here’s a nice little ad for Easter services at an American mega-church:

If Europe is rationalizing it’s church away, we are entertaining the life right out of ours. I’m all for getting people to come to church on Easter, but they need something leave with. People in Europe go out of duty, while many of us go to be entertained. Some idolize old relics while others are Instagramming their professional bunny photos.

If Jesus’ death and resurrection aren’t being preached, what are we really doing?

It’s Holy Week. Although we all may disagree on how to celebrate it, can we pause for a moment and thank God that the cross still stands? Not just in Notre Dame, but in our lives. It stands through everything the world can throw our way. It stands regardless of man’s futile attempts to eradicate it. It stands when we cannot.

Thousands of people across the world are looking at that now iconic photo and saying, “I’m not a religious person… BUT…” Perhaps we need to help them finish that sentence.

We need to BE the church this week and going forward. People need to hear the Good News, see it demonstrated and lived out. The great bells at Notre Dame will ring out again, I’m sure of it. Maybe not this Easter, but eventually. Christians need to understand that the Good News spoken plainly and in love is better than those beautiful bells, or even the Easter Bunny in a helicopter.

So no, I’m not Catholic, but I mourn the loss of beauty that allowed my feeble mind to imagine a glimpse of heaven. At their best, cathedrals and churches are the catalysts that drive us to press in even more to our God.

Buildings matter. Buildings are not ultimate. We need both catacombs and cathedrals. We need churches meeting in homes and schools and movie theaters, to remind us that we are citizens of heaven, and we need structures and stability to remind us that we are connected to generations before us and to come. 
Notre Dame is a remarkable building. France, and the world, should grieve, and should then rebuild. We are right to lament the loss, but we are right also to be reminded of what cannot be lost. Cathedrals can be shaken; the kingdom never can be. 

Russell Moore

Questions and Answers

“The difficulty we modern Christians face is not misunderstanding the Bible, but persuading our untamed hearts to accept its plain instructions.”

AW Tozer

This quote always gets me. Is God’s Word difficult to understand? You could spend years intently studying it and never run out of things to learn. the Bible is complex, no doubt. Is the best we can hope for just to glean some basic truths and leave the rest to the scholars? Or does the problem actually sometimes lie within our own heart?

We live in a strange time. Instant and immediate access to basically everything has turned us all into experts as well as skeptics. Christians pride themselves on asking the ‘hard questions’, but with no real intent on accepting the (sometimes hard) answers. The more information that becomes available, the more questions we have. It’s a paradox of our time. Questions aren’t inherently bad. The hook is that along with this burning desire to question comes a total apathy toward concrete answers.

We don’t actually want the answers, we want our answers.

Look at this passage from John where Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He’s just performed the miracle of feeding the thousands, and the crowds are ready for more. Jesus knows that He came for more than just filling stomachs, so He tells them that they must trust fully in Him as the bread of life, eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “this is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

John 6:60-67

My first thought after reading this is that these poor guys were looking for understanding and got chastised for ‘asking the hard questions’. That’s not it. Jesus went to great lengths to perform miracles and explain the context of them to this crowd. They are really only following Him at this point because of the miracles. He’s trying to get them to see that there’s something beyond this physical bread and physical hunger, and He is it. When they told Him, “this is a hard saying” what they were actually saying was that this is just really hard to accept. The next verse has Jesus responding a bit harshly because He knew they were complaining. “Does this offend you?” is a very pointed question. If they were offended about the bread analogy, just think how their heads will spin when they see Him do what He actually came to do!

They understood perfectly well what was required of them, but couldn’t quite get on board. What follows is one of the saddest verses in the Bible in my opinion: many went back and walked with Him no more. He required total surrender and belief in Him as the one true way. They walked away.

Our flesh gets positively offended at the thought of surrendering.

It’s too hard to understand, we say… but complex is not the same as impossible. We are to dig deep, chew on the truth and “eat” the words that God has given us (Jeremiah 15:16). What an exhausting life it must be to never actually digest what He says… like chewing on a healthy meal and spitting it out. We need adopt a posture that asks but also one that is able to receive… a life that rightly divides the word of truth and accepts it (2 Timothy 2:15).

Read this and weep:

“The Bible makes a lousy owner’s manual. It fails massively at getting to the point. While we may wish for a clear, perspicuous text, that’s not what God gave us. Instead, God gave us a cacophony of voices and perspectives, all in conversation with one another, representing the breadth and depth of the human experience in all it’s complexities and contradictions.”

Rachel Held Evans

If this is how I saw God’s Word, I’d literally never pick it up again. Purposely confusing, full of contradictions and unclear opinions? Ironically, this is from a book called “Inspired” in which the entire premise is to “learn to love the Bible again.” Call me crazy, but this is not a woman who loves the Bible. This is willful, purposeful, misunderstanding.

Peter reminds us in his second epistle to stir up our pure minds and not to be like those who willfully forget God’s promises and laws (3:1,5). The word ‘pure’ that he uses literally means ‘tested by sunlight’, meaning that light exposes any impurity or flaws. We need this light to test our wayward hearts.

“The Lord recognizes no good-natured “agreeing to disagree” so that the followers of the Lamb may adopt the world’s ways and travel along the world’s path. Our problem is to get our world-loving minds to make Jesus Lord in fact as well as in word

AW Tozer

Are we open to hearing what He says or have we already decided to ignore it if it isn’t what we want? The Bible is actually far more clear than we are comfortable admitting. Obeying and following Him will be offensive at times, it will be hard, and it will cost us something. I’m going to say it: there is no such thing as a ‘radically inclusive faith’, at least not in the way the folksy cultural Christians are calling for. There is one true faith that is offered to all who are willing to follow. Within that singular faith we find rest for our weary souls, joy through hardship, and a desire to actually travel fearlessly on the narrow path. The only thing available on the wide road is a flood of never-ending questions and debilitating doubts.

We say we want more of Jesus? Then we have to lay down our pride and our need to feel good and accepted all the time. Take what He says at face value and receive it. Let it become a part of who you are. Let it fuel you. His words are life, not death. They are blessing, not curse.

It’s not as hard as we make it out to be.

Pray For Them

I’m at the point in my motherhood journey where the cutesy stuff just isn’t cutting it anymore. My kids are in high school and middle school now and that naive, innocent phase, as much as it stings my heart, is over. The world expands more and more each passing year and there’s not a darn thing I can do to slow it down. We spend a huge chunk of their lives shielding them from all the bad stuff, and then suddenly have to make an uncomfortable shift: teach them about all the things before the world does. To say I feel like I’m in a battle for souls is not an understatement.

There’s the natural teen stuff we all had to deal with like friendships and dating, but now we have all kinds of bonus issues like easy-access internet pornography, social media nonsense, and vaping. The quick, 5 minutes with Jesus stuff isn’t cutting it anymore. My kids are at Christian schools and the things they are having to deal with keeps me awake many a night. Even the ‘good’ kids are slip-sliding away into all kinds of gray areas that leave me questioning everything. They are inundated with Biblical truth and walking off into a totally different direction.

My son’s high school had their first suicide last week. I can’t even breathe when I think about it. Kids who he grew up with and have known for years are taking paths that I know they weren’t raised to take. So I cry out to God for an explanation and an answer… what can I do to keep this from happening? I’m a doer. If I can read it to them, type it out, teach it, put it on a notecard, I’m on it. My struggle is that I think if I can just convey the right information to them, they’ll want to choose God.

Today, the Lord just kind of flattened this right out of me… in a good way. I pulled out an old prayer I wrote for them a few years ago and read it out loud. Jesus is their Savior, not me.

This is irrationally hard for me to admit. My marching orders come from Jesus. I can’t control my way to Godly teenagers, but I can guide them and pray for them. Here’s just a bit of what I prayed for my kids today:

  • Give them wisdom to not be unequally yoked in their relationships. Send them friends that will build them up.
  • May rebellion never get a foothold in their lives. Give them a healthy understanding of boundaries and may ungodly things be unattractive to them.
  • Show them it’s ok to be different. May they live supernaturally, not strategically.
  • May they desire holiness over being popular or relevant.
  • May they dwell on the the good things they have and not their weaknesses.
  • May forgiveness, confession and compassion be a part of their daily lives as they learn to receive and give mercy.
  • Give them a vision, a big picture to live for that goes beyond what they can see now. Assure them that momentary troubles are not permanent and that You have good plans for them.

I’m learning that the time to pray is when I least feel like praying. That’s ok. This is an offensive war we are in. Letting the days slip by without giving them the tools they need is my greatest fear. We can’t be ignorant of what is happening to our loved ones or think they are immune from the enemy’s attacks. None of us are. But thanks be to God that He has them in the palm of His hand and we can remove ourselves from the drivers seat.

Perhaps this is what our teens need most: parents with a single-minded determination to follow him. We will not do so perfectly, but our own stumbling progress toward discipleship puts us on the same road as our teens — and what a joy it is to be traveling toward Christ together.

Michele Morin

Traveling the road together is a huge privilege. Scary as can be at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Don’t sit by while the world has it’s way with your kids or anyone close to you… know God’s word and pray it. Shout it out loud. Let the heavens know to whom you belong.

Unintended Consequences

“In the age of #MeToo, where women are encouraged to tell their stories and be heard, where liberals are demanding the public trust women, I implore the nation to hear me out, to trust me.
There is such little tolerance for women on the national stage who don’t agree with the hosts of The View or celebrities who march with Planned Parenthood. No one wants to be silenced, especially women at this time in our history.”

Abby Johnson

She worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years, climbing her way up in the ranks from volunteer to director. After assisting at an ultrasound abortion one day, she realized everything she’d believed about this ‘business’ was a lie. Abby Johnson’s movie “Unplanned” opened this weekend, and in spite of some very dramatic moves to squash it’s voice, it succeeded, pulling in just over six million dollars.

The film received an R rating, though completely unmerited. The reason being that it depicts abortion, something which a teen year old girl could get in real life without a parent, but not see portrayed on a screen. There was of course an advertising blackout for the film, meaning even in theaters where it was showing, you’d hardly know it. The real icing on the cake came over the weekend when Twitter decided to suspend the movie’s account for no apparent reason. Just a glitch, don’t cha know…

The backlash that ensued was something to behold. The deliberate attempt to silence the pro-life bunch created so much hoopla that the movie and the suspension began trending all over the world. In their zeal to control the narrative, the Twitter gods helped the movie’s account skyrocket from a few thousand followers to over 250k people.

Within a few hours, things were seemingly back to normal. Positive reviews of the movie were pouring in, the word was getting out, and numbers were surging. Then last night, more shenanigans ensued when practically everyone who had followed the account discovered that they were no longer able to receive updates from it. Twitter kicked off most of Unplanned movie’s followers, including myself, and we were not allowed to follow them anymore.

Do not tell me this is about algorithms. I momentarily followed Planned Parenthood’s main account and guess what? No issues there!

I can live without Twitter. It holds no importance in my life other than bringing me information. My point is this: censoring and trying to silence your opposition may be their way, but it can never be ours. This goes far beyond a social media platform and right to the heart of who we are as believers.

Paul told us in Ephesians 6:12 that “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This present darkness indeed. How else do you explain an entire population of people who go to such strange lengths to protest life? Truly, it is a sobering thing. They get free reign in our culture to put out all the (mis)information they want, freely and without ever being questioned. Every day is Planned Parenthood day in this culture. One little movie comes out that dares to present the other side, and look at this reaction.

Abby Johnson isn’t lying. The folks at PP know that everything she says is true and they can’t handle not being the ones to control the narrative.

Our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood… we have to remember that as we each head out in the world to fight our battles. The enemy lies, manipulates and coerces people into all kinds of things… being a Christian who knows and acts on truth isn’t optional.

Whether you see the movie or not… remember that there is nothing so ‘unplanned’ that it is beyond God’s redemptive love and mercy. Jesus forgives us when we can’t forgive ourselves. He redeems the impossible situation and brings it life.

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:20,25



Deconstructing Faith

Yesterday on Twitter, I noticed an author I read a lot of “liked” and commented on a tweet that said the following:

“I’m baffled by folks who claim that scripture is “clear”, “plain” or “black and white.” I mean – are we reading the same book? the Bible is a hot-complicated-gray-muddy-mess with one of the only clear things being the way God feels about His people – and really, that’s what gets me.”

There’s this trendy new thing in the cool kids’ circles of Christianity called ‘deconstructing.’ Like what restaurants do when they want to make your wedge salad look edgy, all the individual parts get deconstructed and placed on their own. A pile of bacon here, the lettuce over there, onions off to the side… you then get to re-construct it as you wish. I find it tedious and the opposite of edgy.

The folks who fashion themselves pretty smart and important have decided that it’s high time our faith gets a deconstruction of it’s own. Times are changing! Who are we to keep these archaic old systems in place? Like the childhood game of ‘telephone’, it’s been decided that the more you try and pass along God’s word, the more things get garbled and confused. Life is really hard, and if you aren’t questioning all the established systems, something is wrong with you. It’s the height of pride, they say to think we could or even should attempt to understand the Bible or take it at face value. Deconstruction offers a system in which we can pick and choose what we leave behind and what we take with us. Life is a journey y’all, and if you aren’t changing with the, you aren’t being true to yourself.

Back to this Twitter quote… the big thing she’s gleaned from the Bible is that God has some positive feeeeelings about His people. That’s it. If you’re convinced the God you serve loves you but is purposely muddying the waters, doesn’t that affect your heart just a little bit?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I think we can all agree that there are things we humans will never understand this side of heaven. I’d even say we aren’t meant to. Yes, God is big, we are small, and to say we have it all figured out is just as unhelpful as thinking we can’t know anything. There aren’t formulas to God, and life is certainly not black and white.

We are willfully turning our compass into a stumbling block.

On the surface, this kind of thinking leads to a helpless Christianity. We love Him, and believe He loves us, but what happens when we expect things to stay gray and muddy? They have a tendency to stay gray and muddy! But the entire trajectory of His word, from Old Testament to New, is the revelation of the truth to all people… not just scribes and scholars.

“The unfolding of your words gives light;  it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29

When Moses handed down God’s commandments to Israel, they were expected to understand them and pass them down to their children. Jesus always affirmed scripture, conveying that the problem was a failure to believe it rather than an inability to understand it.

Do you see the importance of this? It’s because of our stubborn unbelief that things get cloudy. Here’s a classic example from Jen Hatmaker that I know will annoy some, I don’t mean to bead a dead horse, but I think is extremely important. And more like this is coming down the pipeline every day:

“I just sort of have this dream for the church where it is safe and it is wide and it is generous and it includes all of our voices. For the longest time, the church has essentially had one voice — sort of the white, male voice. I’m starting to realize how much the church is missing when we silence whole people groups, like you’re either not welcome at all, or you’re welcome but not your voice, not your experience, not your life.”

“Wide and safe.” Jesus literally tells us that the path to the Kingdom is a narrow one and that the vast majority are going to choose the wider gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). This doesn’t mean Christianity is prejudiced, as she assumes. Can we underline and highlight this please? This is a false argument! I know it’s all the rage these days to talk about how awful we all are in this area, but this rhetoric is poison. Jesus told the people in the previous verses that everyone who asks receives, everyone who knocks will have the door opened to him. The narrow path is open to all who choose to come to Him, but not everyone will. The metaphor of the big wide open table is pulling at everyone’s heartstrings, but Jesus didn’t promote this. A seat at the table comes at a cost.

“Includes all our voices.” The problem with a lot of voices is, well, it’s a lot of voices. Nobody is trying to silence entire segments of the population, but Christians are to be deferring to the singular voice of God above all else and then going out to talk about it. I know that hurts people’s pride and the need to be heard or adored or popular… but God’s voice first. Not Jen Hatmaker or the well-meaning Bible study lady or the guy at Starbucks. This yearning she talks about to be included and heard would naturally shift to something infinitely better if she’d allow God to do the talking first. We want to go share the Good News, not our latest hot take on why that news is problematic.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” John 10:27

Our Creator has never un-friended or un-welcomed us and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your experience and your life matter to Him. Yes, churches have been unwelcoming at times and that goes against God’s Word and character, but don’t confuse the issue and expect everyone to welcome your unrepentant sin to the party. Our SIN is not welcomed and never will be. It does not get a place at the table because it spoils the feast.

“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17

Jesus says that we have to first want to do God’s will. He is absolutely capable of handling our questions, doubts and even our sin, but we have to take them to Him with the expectation that He has a solution. Do we really want to hear what He has to say? Or are we aiming for the approval of the masses? Doubt isn’t a sin, it’s not the same as unbelief, but given enough oxygen, it can become a monster. It leads us down weird paths and convinces us we need to ‘deconstruct’ something we may have never correctly understood in the first place.

Our journey isn’t ever static, we will go through change and doubt to be sure. God’s Word is stable and unchanging, but also very much alive and active through us. It may seem like a contradiction, but there is plenty of room on the narrow path for anyone who chooses to take it. Walking with Jesus on that path opens our eyes to greater truths than any human could ever conjure up.

And look at this ridiculous salad for heavens sakes… someone please put it back together.



The Real Deal

“The challenge before us then, is not merely to do what God says because He is God, but to desire what God says because He is good. The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness. The challenge is to get up in the morning and prayerfully meditate on the Scriptures until we experience joy and peace in believing the “precious and very great promises” of God (Romans 15:13, 2 Peter 1:4). With this joy set before us, the commandments of God will not be burdensome (1 John 5:3) and the compensation of sin will appear too brief and too shallow to lure us.”

John Piper

While driving around with my boys yesterday listening to the news updates of the day, we heard a commentator joke that the level of ‘shenanigans’ happening is reaching epic proportions. It seems like someone has yelled “every man for himself!” and declared the ship to be sinking. From the absurd to the downright illegal, the insanity is really out on display. I realize selfish scrambling is nothing new to humanity, but sometimes you just hear these stories and think “seriously folks?!” It reminded me of the verse in Hosea that warns, “they sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” (8:7). Lots of whirlwinds swirling about.

Tricked into thinking the wages of sin are something other than death, we keep falling for the same old tricks. This was our car question yesterday: If we know God’s ways are truly best, why don’t we just follow them? Here are some things we came up with:

  • God’s way is best, but it usually isn’t the easiest.
  • Sin usually looks so much prettier than it really is.
  • We know a lot about Him, but we don’t actually know Him

It’s not for a lack of knowledge that we choose to do the things we do. We just aren’t fully convinced in what He says. Our wills are strong. There’s a disconnect happening. Psalm 34:8 tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” When you want someone to experience just how great a book or movie was you tell them to go read it or watch it. When you have something delicious at a restaurant, you say “here, you have to try this!” It’s the same thing with Jesus. We have to actually prefer Him over everything else. How beautiful to get to a place in life where you only want what He wants because you trust in Him over everything else.

I love this verse in 2 Corinthians:

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (11:3).

Paul is warning against over-complicating things. There’s a simplicity in Jesus that the enemy wants to do away with. Eve got all tangled up in this: “Did God really say that? He didn’t really mean it. You can do better…” The rest is history.

When we live out of our feelings and our intellect, God is sometimes God and sin is sometimes sin. We shape it and make it into whatever suits us at the moment.

What if we took His “precious and great promises” at face value, and believed that they were freeing instead of burdensome? Sin would remain exactly what it is, God would be exactly who He is, and we would reap the benefits of being exactly where we need to be in that whole mix: submitted to Christ as our authority and source of all that is good.

God can be a chore, He can be our “plan B”, or He can be our absolute joy and daily bread. We think obedience is burdensome and hard, but life any other way is downright impossible. Look around a the news headlines and all the “shenanagins” coming out from the woodwork… what a tangled web we humans are capable of weaving.

What if we started seeing relationship with Jesus as our blood-bought privilege instead of one more thing to figure out? What if we listen when He calls, take heed when He warns, obey without excuse when He commands, and love how He loves? I think the world is longing for Christians like this. People who demonstrate freedom instead of bondage, clarity and stability over wishy-washy lifestyles, life over death.

Why would we choose anything but Him?

“How little people know who think that holiness is dull.  When one meets the real thing . . . it is irresistible.  If even 10 percent of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before the year’s end?

C.S. Lewis

Let’s go be the real thing.